Just go

Today is a very important day; for the first time in three decades I will be sitting in a school of preaching class!!!  Just auditing, however- I don't need any more diplomas; but I would enjoy a small refresher in Bible.  So, I went to bed early and went right to sleep.  Three hours later I awoke and tried to sleep again, with no success. So, I thought I would look at one of my favorite blogs - right truth.  I was a little surprised to see someone saying that Iran has a nuclear weapon (well, almost).  If they do, then the world is in big trouble!!!  Reason says, "war is coming soon - devastating war!!!  But, what does faith say?

John, Chapter 14
 23  Jesus answered him, “If a man loves me, he will keep my word. My Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our home with him.   24  He who doesn’t love me doesn’t keep my words. The word which you hear isn’t mine, but the Father’s who sent me.   25  I have said these things to you, while still living with you.   26  But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and will remind you of all that I said to you.   27  Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, give I to you. Don’t let your heart be troubled, neither let it be fearful.   28  You heard how I told you, ‘I go away, and I come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I said ‘I am going to my Father;’ for the Father is greater than I.   29  Now I have told you before it happens so that, when it happens, you may believe.   30  I will no more speak much with you, for the prince of the world comes, and he has nothing in me.   31  But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father commanded me, even so I do. Arise, let us go from here. 

Peace is not the absence of difficultly, it is calmness in the presence of God.  Jesus was ready to face anything with God and the disciples followed along.  But, Jesus WENT IN SPITE OF EVERYTHING AND SO DID THE DISCIPLES!!!  We must do the same - do what we must - with God!!!!  Whether we die in a Nuclear War, influenza, or get hit by a car - we will die, one day.  So what?  If we commune with God and are known by HIM, we have peace.  After all, isn't that really the complete life!!! So, JUST GO!!!!

Why can't he leave us alone?


Jesus is to blame. The Christ of the cross is to blame. If it weren't for him I might be able to find some peace but he and his cross disturb me and won't let me be content with what I see when I look within and around me. If your loved one is quadriplegic you know that in many ways he or she isn't physically able to help you care for them and in some sense you adjust to the situation—you expect nothing and in that respect you aren't disappointed. If you truly believe there's nothing better to be hoped for in this world I suppose you might rage in your hopelessness or eat, drink (or starve) and die tomorrow; but if hope were dead would there not be some kind of resignation, a reluctant, numbed acceptance of things as they are? Maybe, but would that not be better than vainly hoping? Is that not what the old Greek story means to say in the story of Pandora's "box"—when she opened the forbidden box everything in it escaped except...hope. And it became the source of torment to all because they could never be content with things as they are.
In an early essay Bertrand Russell said that because we know the truth of human existence—that it's a pointless accident—we must face it and build a future on "unyielding despair." Well, it's into this world, with all its pain, loss, disappointment, loneliness, cruelty, entrenched evils and invincible selfishness that Jesus came, making claims and promising much.
In the first century he offended the Romans and their view of power and empire. He offended the Greeks and their view of God and wisdom. He offended the Jews and their view of God's faithfulness and their place in his purposes. And he continues to scandalise us all to this day.
The people who care nothing for him—and never did—aren't affected by him. The crass hedonists think life's a one way ticket so, to the degree that they can manage it, they party the nights away. Maybe towards the end they think of "fire insurance" (though even that's not of great concern now). The world can't be made better—certainly not in their lifetimes—so why worry about it? Get what you can as quick as you can, throw a handful of coins in the direction of the world's needy during a big public musical concert and get back to the usual partying.
Ignore the tiny churches with their inner squabbles. Or, listen for a while to their squabbles and discover how pathetic they are in the face of the world's great needs and wrongs, and then go back to the partying. Not a bad philosophy that; a happy life and an endless sleep at the end.
The Jesus of the cross disturbs me in three general areas. There's the state of the world and the church and my own personal situation.
Jesus is too stubbornly real and I can't get away from him. Not that I'm trying to, you understand. I neither try to nor want to get away from him but being in his presence and listening to his kingly promises that are written in blood I become impatient with the chaotic, oppressive, confused, rebellious and cruel world. Why hasn't his sovereignty transformed the world already? As sad-spoken Matthew Arnold said, in the beginning, the tide of faith was fully in and covered the earth like a garment. But now—it would appear—all we hear is the faint sound of its "melancholy long withdrawing roar" as it retreats and leaves bare the naked shingled shores of the world. Sometimes I sorely want the present King of Kings to show himself more powerfully—more powerfully, that is, in the more common understanding of power. I'd like him to obliterate all the oppressive structures of the world—structures that we have neither the desire to destroy nor the strength to do it, supposing we had the desire. And why would we desire it, aren't we the ones that build them? The state of the world is completely contrary to the Christian's claim that Jesus is Lord of Lords.
And when I look at the church as a whole and consider how pathetic and weak it is, how self-serving, as it fine-tunes its theology and gorges on rich truth while a world of Lazaruses starves. Not content to draw lines of fellowship in places where the heart of the gospel is attacked, many church leaders insist on keeping us all in separate pens based on the flimsiest differences and call it "defending the faith." We pay our ministers to "stand for the truth" if they're willing to stand for the truth that we pay them to stand for.
It's much easier to believe the too-rich-to-be-fully-grasped doctrines of the person and work of Jesus Christ in and as whom God revealed himself than it is to believe in the church as it church-shops its way from one assembly to another. And as we shop our first question is not, "What is your gospel here?" it's, "What programs do you have to suit me here?" At one end of the spectrum we have these primetime hucksters that ceaselessly beg for money to fund their programs (or other hidden things) and on the other there are churches that are offended if there's talk about sharing our wealth. Time and money is spent on leadership agendas that usually have to do with "making our church grow." Then there's the "preaching" [?] that is nothing but a series on sessions filled with secular suggestions on how to fine-tune your marriage or raise nice kids or cultivate nice friends. This kind of "preaching" is done by secularists, agnostics and atheists every bit as well as preachers. It changes nothing that preachers throw in some Bible verses for religious coloration. The Lord Jesus is ignored in the "preaching" for months of suggestions that might be of some use socially.
And then there's the personal, bitter disappointment with oneself. There are times when you think you see real progress and then like a bolt of lightning and a thunderclap events expose your heart—it's seems as shrivelled as ever it was even after years of longing for better. Just when you think you've experienced significant growth you're brought face to face with outrageous meanness or corruption or bitterness that pours out of you. Then you understand what Dorothy Sayers was getting at when she wrote:
I am battered and broken and weary and out of heart,
I will not listen to talk of heroic things,
But be content to play some simple part,
Freed from preposterous, wild imaginings...
Men were not made to walk as priests and kings.
Thou liest, Christ, Thou liest; take it hence,
That mirror of strange glories; I am I;
What wouldst Thou make of me? O cruel pretense,
Drive me not mad so with the mockery
Of that most lovely, unattainable lie!
And for a while—a day, a week, a month, a year—you sulk and snarl and prowl. Then you see him! He's always been there; you just didn't notice during that wretched period. You see him looking at you with those big eyes of his, calm and compelling, and as he moves away he looks back and motions with his head, "You comin'?" and…
Why can't he leave us alone? Why can't we who have met him leave him alone?

Bible Reading, Jan. 8

Jan. 8
Genesis 8

Gen 8:1 God remembered Noah, all the animals, and all the livestock that were with him in the ship; and God made a wind to pass over the earth. The waters subsided.
Gen 8:2 The deep's fountains and the sky's windows were also stopped, and the rain from the sky was restrained.
Gen 8:3 The waters receded from the earth continually. After the end of one hundred fifty days the waters decreased.
Gen 8:4 The ship rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on Ararat's mountains.
Gen 8:5 The waters receded continually until the tenth month. In the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains were seen.
Gen 8:6 It happened at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ship which he had made,
Gen 8:7 and he sent forth a raven. It went back and forth, until the waters were dried up from the earth.
Gen 8:8 He sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters were abated from the surface of the ground,
Gen 8:9 but the dove found no place to rest her foot, and she returned to him into the ship; for the waters were on the surface of the whole earth. He put forth his hand, and took her, and brought her to him into the ship.
Gen 8:10 He stayed yet another seven days; and again he sent forth the dove out of the ship.
Gen 8:11 The dove came back to him at evening, and, behold, in her mouth was an olive leaf plucked off. So Noah knew that the waters were abated from the earth.
Gen 8:12 He stayed yet another seven days, and sent forth the dove; and she didn't return to him any more.
Gen 8:13 It happened in the six hundred first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried up from the earth. Noah removed the covering of the ship, and looked. He saw that the surface of the ground was dried.
Gen 8:14 In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth was dry.
Gen 8:15 God spoke to Noah, saying,
Gen 8:16 "Go out of the ship, you, and your wife, and your sons, and your sons' wives with you.
Gen 8:17 Bring forth with you every living thing that is with you of all flesh, including birds, livestock, and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, that they may breed abundantly in the earth, and be fruitful, and multiply on the earth."
Gen 8:18 Noah went forth, with his sons, his wife, and his sons' wives with him.
Gen 8:19 Every animal, every creeping thing, and every bird, whatever moves on the earth, after their families, went out of the ship.
Gen 8:20 Noah built an altar to Yahweh, and took of every clean animal, and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.
Gen 8:21 Yahweh smelled the pleasant aroma. Yahweh said in his heart, "I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake, because the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I ever again strike everything living, as I have done.
Gen 8:22 While the earth remains, seed time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease."

Daniel, The Faith Of a Fifteen Year Old, Mark Copeland

                          "THE BOOK OF DANIEL"

                The Faith Of A Fifteen Year Old (1:1-21)


1. The Old Testament is filled with examples worthy of our study and
   a. Such as Joseph, with his stand for God in the house of Potiphar
   b. Such as Joshua, a great man of faith and conviction in his
      service to God

2. Another example that ought to inspire us all is that of Daniel...
   a. As a young man, his faith gave him the courage to remain true to
      his convictions
   b. As an old man, his faith sustained him the threat of persecution

[We first read of Daniel and his great faith, in the first chapter of
the book of Daniel...]


      1. The beginning of Babylonian domination - Dan 1:1-2
         a. In  the third year of Jehoiakim (ca. 605 B.C.)
         b. Jerusalem besieged by Nebuchadnezzar
         c. Jehoiakim taken into captivity, and precious items taken
            from the temple
      2. This was the first of three times that Nebuchadnezzar came
         against Jerusalem (605, 597, 586 B.C.)

      1. Young men taken to serve Nebuchadnezzar - Dan 1:3-7
         a. They were truly the "cream of the crop" among the captives
            1) Good looking with no blemish
            2) Gifted with wisdom, knowledge, and the ability to learn
         b. To serve in the king's palace, and be taught the language
            and literature of the Chaldeans (Babylonians)
            1) Given special provisions of the king's food and drink
            2) With three years of special training
         c. Among those selected, four are named, and apparently
            renamed to honor Babylonian gods
            1) Daniel (God is my judge) - Belteshazzar (a servant of
            2) Hananiah (the Lord is gracious) - Shadrach (inspired by
               the sun god)
            3) Mishael (who is what God is?) - Meshach (who is what the
               moon god is?)
            4) Azariah (the Lord helps) - Abed-Nego (servant of Nebo)
      2. How would these young men respond?
         a. Would they submit to the temptations placed before them?
         b. Would they give in, excusing themselves due to youth and
         -- How would you have reacted if you were in their place?

      1. He "purposed in his heart" - Dan 1:8
         a. I.e., he made a commitment
         b. Something too rarely heard of today, in both young and old
      2. His commitment was to "not defile himself" with the king's
         a. Possibly unclean food according to Levitical restrictions
         b. Or food used in idol worship which would cause one to be a
            participant with such worship - cf. 1Co 10:20-22

      1. He did it with politeness - Dan 1:8b
         a. Note that "he requested"
         b. He did not "demand", but respected the authority of those
            over him
      2. He did it with God's help - Dan 1:9
         a. God gave him favor in the eyes of the chief of eunuchs
         b. Similar to how Joseph found favor in prison - cf. Gen 39:21
      3. He did it through persistence - Dan 1:10-11
         a. He did not give up after the refusal by the chief of the
         b. He tried something else, going to the steward directly over
      4. He did it through willingness to test his faith - Dan 1:12-15
         a. He was confident that God's way was the right way
         b. He was willing to demonstrate the superiority of God's way
         c. So he asked the steward to give him and his three friends
            just water and vegetables for ten days

      1. It affected the lives of others! - Dan 1:15-16
         a. It had blessed the countenance of Daniel and his friends
         b. It then blessed the rest of the young men under the care of
            the steward
      2. God blessed Daniel and his three friends even more! - Dan 1:
         a. God gave them knowledge, skill, and wisdom, and to Daniel
            He gave understanding in visions and dreams
         b. They became the best of the young men who had been trained,
            and served in the presence of Nebuchadnezzar
         c. The king found them better than all his magicians and
      3. Daniel continued in the court of Babylon nearly seventy years!
         - Dan 1:21
         a. Even to the first year of Cyrus of Persia (539 B.C.)
         b. Eventually becoming provincial ruler and chief
            administrator over all others - Dan 2:48

[What a wonderful example of faith and commitment, and of God's
providence to care for His people!  Now let's consider some...]


      1. Be polite
         a. There is never any reason to be rude or arrogant
         b. Impoliteness just aggravates a situation rather than helps
            it - cf. Pr 15:1
      2. Seek God's help
         a. Without God, any effort is more likely to fall - cf. Psa 127:1-2
         b. God seeks to help those who are loyal to Him - cf. 2 Chr 16:9
      3. Be persistent
         a. Don't give up trying after meeting the first obstacle
         b. Remember what Jesus taught about persistence:
            1) Those who keep on "asking, seeking, knocking" will
               receive, find, have doors opened to them - Mt 7:7-11
            2) The parable of the persistent widow - Lk 18:1-8
      4. Be willing to test your faith
         a. If not willing, how committed are you to trusting God?
         b. Yet God often invited people to test His promises - cf. Mal 3:10
         c. And so does Jesus - cf. Jn 7:16-17; Mt 6:31-34

      1. School-age children
         a. Out from underneath their mother's apron for the first time
         b. They will be faced with making decisions
         -- Will they have the faith of Daniel?
      2. College-bound students
         a. Moving away from home for the first time
         b. Leaving a spiritual environment at home, for one that is
            likely very worldly
         -- Will they live and act with the same sort of commitment
            found in Daniel?
      3. Adults in the workplace
         a. Tempted to accept jobs which may require one to compromise
         b. Called upon to lie for the boss, show loyalty to the
            company though illegal or unethical
         -- Will they have "the faith of a fifteen year old"?
      4. Those with unbelieving spouses
         a. Having to serve God and raise their children in the ways of
            the Lord on their own
         b. With little or no moral and religious support from their
            life mate
         -- Will they have the "purpose of heart" that Daniel had?


1. Many other applications could be made, but what have we learned from
   "The Faith Of A Fifteen Year Old" like Daniel?
   a. Even those who are young need to make a personal commitment to
      serve the Lord
   b. One can be steadfast in their purpose to serve the Lord without
   c. We should look to the Lord for help, and be willing to trust in
      His providence
   d. God will bless and provide for those who put their trust in Him
      and His will

2. Daniel is not the only person to demonstrate such faith in his
   a. We made mention of Joseph earlier
   b. We have other examples in the O.T., such as David and Josiah
   c. And of course, let's not forget the example of Mary (the mother
      of Jesus), and that of Timothy

May the example of their dedication to the service of the Lord inspire
us all to "purpose in our heart" not to defile ourselves by the things
of the world!